Will Search Marketers Change Their Spots?

Rapid advances in video technology have resulted in new, low-cost, high-quality content creation resources for search marketers. Online distribution remains mostly free in popular video search engines (AOL Video, YouTube) and newly emerging ones (Blinkx, EveryZing).

Search marketers have started to use online videos to promote their businesses. YouTube alone features more than five pages of videos with the tag, “search marketing.” However, online video can be a risky strategy if alternatives to low-quality, user-generated content haven’t been examined.

Last month, I covered the advantages of partnering with professional videography firms to customize and optimize video content. This week, we’ll look at using video enterprises, another option for search marketers.

Video enterprises differ from standard videography firms in a number of ways that can benefit search marketers who want to promote their own services.

Speaking Out of TurnHere

TurnHere produces videos for a number of vertical search engines such as bookvideos.tv (Simon and Schuster), CitySearch.com (IAC), and TripAdvisor. Search marketing firms with a relatively modest budget can take advantage of services used by big brand marketers. The cost-effective format leads to a much shorter turnaround time than traditional television video. TurnHere creates mini-documentaries for clients using real people to tell their stories. The style is more realistic than traditional testimonials and less slick than TV commercials. Their videographers use prosumer-level equipment that’s more than adequate for viewing online in most circumstances.

Video pieces with TurnHere typically take about two to three weeks, but on occasion, they can turn out pieces in just a single weekend. Pricing ranges from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars per piece of produced content. Typical pieces run about two to three minutes. Internet distribution partners include Google (Video, YouTube, Local) and Yahoo!, AOL, and MSN video portals.

Running Spots On TV or Online

SpotRunner enables local businesses to choose video clips from an online directory featuring an assortment of pre-produced video clips created by the industry. Customized company information (graphic, contextual, and audio) can be inserted into the video template for the client.

The advantages of this model are its low cost (starting at $499 for a single piece) and the fast turnaround time. Turnaround can be as short as a week for ad production, and two to three more weeks for finding a television distribution market. That’s considerably shorter than traditional ad creative times.

Marketing studies have shown that online search campaigns are more effective when complemented by traditional offline campaigns such as television spots. Spot Runner, an Internet-based ad agency, not only makes it easy and affordable for businesses to advertise on television, it also promotes its services as a complementary feature for search marketing campaigns in the video search and contextual search space.

“Our clients have told us that when they run television ads, their Web traffic increases dramatically,” said David Waxman, co-founder of SpotRunner. “When they promote their Web sites correctly on television, they can really get a push from television. The push medium of television and the pull medium of the Internet can really go hand in hand.”

Waxman thinks most search marketers probably don’t realize how targeted their search marketing campaigns can be.

“You can locally target down to the neighborhood level with television, and you can also use your ad to target keywords on a site network basis. For instance, say you know your keywords that deal with sports — you can target your video for sports sites only, such as a host of sports-related television shows like ESPN or Fox Sports.”

SpotRunner’s television-based content can also be used for online video solutions on a customized, case-by-case situation with each client. SpotRunner plans to offer this service as a full-fledged, off-the-shelf product for all customers by 2008.

Leveraging Professional Video Services

Major search marketing firms should consider investing a portion of their marketing budget with an established video enterprise firm. The big winners will be the search marketers who combine TV spots and online videos with traditional marketing efforts. Here’s how you can leverage professional video services to differentiate yourselves from the competition:

  • Produce multiple short clips of the same content. Most people don’t have the time or interest to view pieces beyond three minutes. Request a two to three minute version for the Internet, and a shorter version for local television markets (30-seconds is typical, but also do a 15-second version as a backup).
  • Be episodic. Doing a series of videos keeps your message fresh for your audience. They can be released in intervals, allowing for comparison performance testing. I typically recommend producing three creative pieces and running them side-by-side online, but individually at different intervals on television.
  • Compare your reports. SpotRunner can provide reports from the television viewership. Be sure to compare these results with the online viewing of the same content via third-party stats (YouTube) and your Web site analytics.
  • Distinguish yourself. Gather as much information as you can on the video optimization process for video enterprise firms.

In the eat-or-be-eaten world of search marketing, marketers will either learn from video enterprise firms, or find they are talking heads without an audience.

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